Atlanta Rear View Mirror

NASCAR

The grueling night in Georgia delivered in the end with an exciting finish that saw Kasey Kahne finally get into the win column and punch his ticket to the Chase. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR’s longest race. Sunday night’s Oral-B USA only felt like it.

The grueling night in Georgia though delivered in the end with an exciting finish that saw Kasey Kahne finally get into the win column and punch his ticket to the Chase.

As he did in Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race, Kevin Harvick dominated the race but as is sometimes the case the best car didn’t win. Kahne, who had what appeared to be a comfortable lead late in the race only to see his advantage wiped away for a caution after Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. tangled, had to fight back in a second overtime finish to seal the deal.

And just like that team owner Rick Hendrick has four cars in this year’s championship field.

Kahne has been on the hot seat all season long as he and crew chief Kenny Francis struggled to find the right ingredients to put together race-winning efforts.

It finally came all together on Sunday night.

Certainly for the duo it was worth the wait.

  • Two spots remain in the Chase field now that Kahne and Matt Kenseth locked up positions with their Atlanta finishes. The regular season finale at Richmond again has the potential to be a memorable night in determining who can run for this year’s championship. There should be a variety of approaches and strategies with some gambling thrown in for good measure next Saturday night.
  • Tony Stewart’s return to racing ended on a dismal note when he slammed the wall just past the halfway mark ending his night. The encounter came laps after a previous incident when Kyle Busch clipped the front nose of Stewart’s car racing for position and also sent the No. 14 into the wall. The emotional weekend for Stewart, who was greeted with resounding cheers by the crowd during driver introductions, was at least the first step to getting back into some sort of normalcy after the tragic sprint car accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. three weeks ago. NASCAR’s controversial decision to allow Stewart a Chase exemption despite missing three races and two attempts to qualify means he’ll have one last shot to make the playoffs next week with a win at Richmond or be on the sidelines for the championship picture two years in a row.
  • The last Labor Day weekend race at Atlanta Motor Speedway brought out a solid crowd at the 1.5-mile track. Darlington Raceway returns the Southern 500 Labor Day tradition next season and Atlanta goes to the spot after the Daytona 500 on March 1st. Yes there could be some weather challenges but the possibility of a nice spring day also exists. But it will be very interesting indeed if race fans in the ATL support the new 2015 date as well as they did Sunday night.
  • Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series return to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park was a resounding success with a second straight thrilling finish. Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga put on a show over the closing laps of the race around the historic road course before the Brad Keselowski Racing driver was able to edge ahead for the win. Quiroga, who has been accused of being overly aggressive at times this year, should be commended for racing Blaney as cleanly as he did and the duo turned in one of the greatest NASCAR finishes in history.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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